We all have ideas.  When we’re walking, in the shower, cooking dinner – all sorts of odd places, and all sorts of odd times.

So, that big question ‘where do your ideas come from?’ is often at the forefront of any discussion on creativity in the textile and fibre arts arena.

And it’s a great question – we all hang on for the answer.  But are we actually asking the right question?  I think not.

I remember reading a biography on Steve Jobs, the American business magnate and co-founder of Apple Inc.  One stand-out point he made often, was to expose ourselves to as many interests and diversions as possible.  His rationale was that you never know when you’ll be able to use that information somewhere, in some way.  And he was right.

So inspiring creativity is basically all about exposure to new inputs, new situation and new challenges.  All of which, inevitably, leads to unearthing and tracking down even more interesting ideas.  I call it ‘going down rabbit holes’ – but it means the same thing.

You’re taking the blinkers off, facilitating more knowledge-gathering, even opening yourself to changing direction entirely.

Exposure is about learning to take your ideas further, fleshing them out with deeper research making them more complete and well-rounded.  Research is one of my favourite rabbit holes – just visit my Pinterest boards.  I can’t resist.

If I had to make a simple, visual equation to encompass this vital process it would look like this:

Ideas = Exposure + Research

And as an added bonus to this process, why not begin writing about what you do, where your ideas come from, how you’ve added to them – or even more interesting – how did they encourage you to change direction?

Not only will you be offering interesting and useful insights into your processes, cementing your thoughts and ideas with beautiful words, but your writing skills may well skyrocket too.

So the real question about where your ideas come from, should really be, ‘what new interests are you into?’ or ‘what can I learn now?’ – because that’s where your inspiring ideas will come from.

Open yourself to all the things that interest you, or even the things you may have done years ago but have let drop.  This will re-ignite your passions, re-engage your senses and rejuvenate your inspiration to create.

They all feed off each other.

cathy jack coupland